After building new libraries in the Cave Spring and Glenvar areas, Roanoke County says it's ready to get started on another one in Vinton. Tonight, they're asking citizens of Vinton to come to a public meeting to give their input on what it should look like.
Roanoke County Public Libraries Director Diana Rosapepe says many of the older libraries in the county are outdated and don't have the infrastructure in place to keep pace with the times.
"The libraries we're all used to and that most of us grew up with were -- I sadly call them book boxes," said Rosapepe. "They mainly existed to house books and provide reference services. We had grafted on power strips everywhere we could put them and we had crowded things wherever we could. Every computer we added was knocking out three feet of books."
She says the new South County and Glenvar libraries give them the ability to provide the services people come to expect in a modern library -- which is something they want to bring to Vinton.
"Most of our libraries have been so crowded and old that people could only run in, get a book, and run back out," said Rosapepe. "But people coming in here [to the South County Library] stay, sometimes for the whole day. It's just a tremendously welcoming atmosphere."
During a public meeting Thursday night, citizens will have the opportunity to meet with the new Vinton Library's architects -- the same firm behind the South County and Glenvar Libraries -- and give input on what features they'd like to see in it.
The architects will then create designs based on that input, which they'll present during two additional public meetings that will take place later this year.
"We'd really like the community to come out, give us their ideas for what they'd like to see in a library, what's important to them, so that the final product we produce is something that's really useful," said Rosapepe.
Roanoke County and the Town of Vinton have purchased the property directly across the street from the Vinton Municipal Building, which is where the new library will go. Rosapepe says the actual building will be about 20,000 square feet and estimates the entire project will cost about $9 million.
The Roanoke County Board of Supervisors has approved the money for the design phase of the library, but would still have to decide when and if to fund the construction. They'll have that discussion during a workshop in May.
Leaders in Vinton say they're excited about this project and that they're hopeful it will help kick start the revitalization of their downtown area.
The town was recently awarded a $700,000 grant from the state that will be used to make improvements to the exteriors of buildings downtown, pay for a new marketing campaign for downtown Vinton, and launch a small business loan fund to try to attract new businesses downtown or help existing ones expand.
Town Manager Chris Lawrence says two years ago when they applied for that grant, they were turned down because the state wanted to see some type of downtown anchor or more public / private ventures. When they reapplied and had the library included in the application, they got it.
Roanoke County will ultimately pay for the construction and operation of the library, but Vinton doled out $600,000 for the land it will be built on.
Thursday night's meeting starts at 7:00pm and will take place at the Vinton War Memorial.